Sailfish Attack Falls Short in Penalty Kicks at NCCAA Title Game

Written By: Lindsay Oren, PBA Sports Information Graduate Assistant

Box Score

KISSIMMEE, Fla.- After a terrific season which featured a consecutive NCCAA South Regional Title, the Palm Beach Atlantic University women’s soccer program competed in their first ever NCCAA National Championship match on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in upstate Florida. Taking on the #1 seeded Spring Arbor University, the Sailfish (14-5-2) fought every minute of the match, forcing two overtime periods and losing a heartbreaker in penalty kicks after 110 minutes of action.

The Sailfish started off in high fashion with a near goal from none other than #14, Angie Kuhn, in the first minute of play. Despite some dangerous opportunities in the attacking third and obvious possession in favor of the Blue and White in the first leg of the half, the Lady Cougars would draw first blood off of a counterattack at the 24th mark.

After clearing a chance by the Fish on their side of the field, SAU took advantage of the open backfield as Jessica Clarke dribbled the length of the right sideline before finding teammate Kristin Abbott in the middle. Her quick maneuver past the last PBA defender gave her a clear goal before she laced the far right corner, giving the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

As seen in several matches this year, head coach James Kryger rallied his girls at halftime as he recognized his team’s impeccable ability to come from behind. The Fish responded well with a second half that featured an 8-3 shot margin and clear ball possession.

Continuing to feed their #1 striker, the Sailfish located her once again as a dangerous cross  in the 60th minute bounced around in the box before Kuhn pelted the near post, knotting the score 1-1 and giving the Fish new life.

Despite the Fish giving SAU goalkeeper Lauren Wright multiple scares in the remainder of the second period, PBA resurgence forced two 10-minute overtime periods after 90 minutes of tied action.

Both teams wisely tucked in for the extra periods, making penalty kicks the only method for deciding the title.

As SAU and PBA took to midfield to await each teams’ top five penalty shooters, the Cougars made an interesting move by inserting a field player into their goal. Although rare, the move favored Spring Arbor as Christina Riske was able to stop two of PBA’s shots before her team would post a 4-2 penalty margin and a 3-2 final score.

Although an unfortunate ending for seniors Kuhn, Angelica Torres, and Alex Regin, the three ladies had a fantastic three-game tournament to polish off their fine careers in a Sailfish uniform. Their contributions to the PBA women’s soccer program are invaluable, and their leadership is much appreciated by the entire athletics program and university.

The Fish were led defensively by veterans Courtney Calhoun, Regin, and Alyssa DeMonte who all saw quality minutes in the backfield pouncing on the offensive threats from SAU’s side. Allison Fox also posted six saves on the day in 110 minutes in goal for PBA.

Despite losing three quality players in this year’s graduating seniors, the Fish look forward to having roughly all of their team return for the 2011 season, including leadership from veteran players Katie Runyon, Ashley Shoaf, Gabby Lopez, and Megan Phillips. Kryger also utilized his freshmen in Andrea Jefferson, Fox, and Shelby Wells who will all have a year’s experience under their belts.

“Today was a game that showed our hard working, never-give-up character. We settled in after holding a very good Spring Arbor team to an even first half and really took it to them in the second half,” said head coach James Kryger.

“We were very happy with our game plan execution. The ladies left everything they had on the field and it was because of that this is even harder to accept. We can be very happy in our team performance. It was something that we have tried to bring out in them all year and they responded at the top of their game,” said Kryger.

“Credit to Spring Arbor who neutralized our proficient attack in overtime and it led to the tough loss in PK’s. We are very, very happy with the results this season to end 14-5-2 it is a testament to how hard each one of these girls worked to put us in this position. We have been blessed with three wonderful seniors who have lead our lines (def,mid,fwds) to outstanding seasons. We are so excited how this program is going and to finish second is hard, but with the future ahead, we should look for a return performance in a year’s time,” concluded Kryger.

 


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